The most significant election in Britain will take place in Scotland

Editorial: The future of Scotland hangs in the balance, and British politics could be disfigured for years to come

Wednesday 05 May 2021 22:00

Of all the many important elections taking place across Great Britain, by far the most portentous is that of the Scottish parliament. Depending on the result, Scotland will either be out of the United Kingdom after a few years, or else the cause of Scottish independence will be put firmly back, probably “for a generation”, to borrow a phrase.

The fact that the once-dominant Scottish Labour Party and its fresh new leader will probably be stuck in third place is a mere sideshow in a constitutional drama that seems likely to dominate national politics (ie British and Scottish) for many months. The likely destruction of the breakaway Alba party will perhaps mean the end of the political career of Alex Salmond – a remarkable event, but now a mere footnote in the much bigger, wider story. 

It is perfectly apparent – as it has been for months, if not years – that the Scottish National Party will once again emerge as the largest party in the 129-member parliament, and that Nicola Sturgeon will soon be re-elected as first minister. The other leaders, in their recent television debate, virtually conceded as much, pleading with the Scottish people to deny her party an overall majority in the coming election. They knew what they were doing.

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